Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Kalevala, by John Martin Crawford, [1888], at


Now I end my measured singing,
Bid my weary tongue keep silence,
Leave my songs to other singers.
Horses have their times of resting
After many hours of labor;
Even sickles will grow weary
When they have been long at reaping;
Waters seek a quiet haven
After running long in rivers;
Fire subsides and sinks in slumber
At the dawning of the morning
Therefore I should end my singing,
As my song is growing weary,
For the pleasure of the evening,
For the joy of morn arising.

Often I have heard it chanted,
Often heard the words repeated:
"Worthy cataracts and rivers
Never empty all their waters."
Thus the wise and worthy singer
Sings not all his garnered wisdom;
Better leave unsung some sayings
Than to sing them out of season.

Thus beginning, and thus ending,
Do I roll up all my legends,
Roll them in a ball for safety,
In my memory arrange them,
In their narrow place of resting,
Lest the songs escape unheeded,
While the lock is still unopened,
While the teeth remain unparted,
And the weary tongue is silent.
Why should I sing other legends,
Chant them in the glen and forest,
Sing them on the hill and heather?
Cold and still my golden mother
Lies beneath the meadow, sleeping,
Hears my ancient songs no longer,
Cannot listen to my singing;
Only will the forest listen,
Sacred birches, sighing pine-trees,
Junipers endowed with kindness,
Alder-trees that love to bear me,
With the aspens and the willows.

When my loving mother left me,
Young was I, and low of stature;
Like the cuckoo of the forest,
Like the thrush upon the heather,
Like the lark I learned to twitter,
Learned to sing my simple measures,
Guided by a second mother,
Stern and cold, without affection;
Drove me helpless from my chamber
To the wind-side of her dwelling,
To the north-side of her cottage,
Where the chilling winds in mercy
Carried off the unprotected.
As a lark I learned to wander,
Wander as a lonely song-bird,
Through the forests and the fenlands
Quietly o'er hill and heather;
Walked in pain about the marshes,
Learned the songs of winds and waters,
Learned the music of the ocean,
And the echoes of the woodlands.

Many men that live to murmur,
Many women live to censure,
Many speak with evil motives;
Many they with wretched voices
Curse me for my wretched singing,
Blame my tongue for speaking wisdom,
Call my ancient songs unworthy,
Blame the songs and curse the singer.
Be not thus, my worthy people,
Blame me not for singing badly,
Unpretending as a minstrel.
I have never had the teaching,
Never lived with ancient heroes,
Never learned the tongues of strangers,
Never claimed to know much wisdom.
Others have had language-masters,
Nature was my only teacher,
Woods and waters my instructors.
Homeless, friendless, lone, and needy,
Save in childhood with my mother,
When beneath her painted rafters,
Where she twirled the flying spindle,
By the work-bench of my brother,
By the window of my sister,
In. the cabin of my father,
In my early days of childhood.

Be this as it may, my people,
This may point the way to others,
To the singers better gifted,
For the good of future ages,
For the coming generations,
For the rising folk of Suomi.


Next: Glossary